By Emily Figueiredo
Del Mar Rotary Club publicity chair
In 1985, Rotary International undertook the huge challenge to eradicate polio from the world. The U.S. and most of North America had been freed of this crippling disease since the 1960s following the introduction of the Sabin and then the Salk vaccines. However, there were 350,000 cases of polio in 1985 across 125 countries. Since then, every year hundreds of thousands of Rotarians from around the world have traveled to the remaining polio-infected countries to administer the polio vaccine, including Rotarians from our community. In three of the four remaining countries that have still been affected by polio, religious distrust of the vaccine had prevented cooperation. Finally, that barrier has been broken in India, resulting in 100 percent success of eradicating this terrible disease for one year in that country and looking forward with great hope.
In San Diego, on Jan. 17, 2012, Dr. Bruce Aylward of the World Health Organization said, “Looking forward, we will live in a polio-free world. We have got to the critical turning point we had to be sure we could finish the job,” when addressing the Rotary International Assembly. Since Rotary International committed to conquering polio in 1985, it was announced that this month reached the historical marker of accomplishing a 99 percent decrease in polio cases throughout the world.
Another great achievement against polio that came from the Del Mar Rotary Club has been the success of selling “Good-Bye Polio Thanks Rotary” bumper stickers. Marty Peters, a member of the club and past District Governor, has championed this effort and has sold over 198,000 stickers since 1997. These bumper stickers are sold at cost so that every penny goes straight into raising awareness of the effort and to directly fund the final fight against polio.
To purchase a bumper sticker or to learn more about the Rotary Club of Del Mar, please visit